Photo Friday: Life and Death(?), and a Flash Fiction Bonus

Rumours of my impending doom have been wildly exaggerated. This week I got the results from my twenty-four hour cardiac monitoring I've tried new strategies to curb the heart palpitations and flutterings. Nothing devastating but I do need to have further investigations. (If only I could control anxiety.) I'm working on new strategies - and I've managed five nights in a row without an episode.

  

Writing (and not discussing my previous career) has helped distract me from counterproductive thoughts. I've almost finished rewrites for the first (longer) short,  From the Depths, in Viola's third journal of adventures and am reworking the second story, Tomorrow, When I Die.

We've had record summer rains and everything is so green and full of life (usually everything is dry and brown this time of year).  We've had a few chill nights (huzzah!); I've even finished another octoscarf to sell at the Salisbury Secret Garden markets tomorrow afternoon.

 

And now for a bonus flash fiction.

The girls at the pbafm Words Out Loud radio show have a tradition. They randomly choose five words from a book of their guest for the day. The challenge is to write something, using all five words, in just ten minutes. Contributions get read out on air in the following session. On my visit on the show, the words were from John Malone's latest book of poetry, Seeing Things. The words were: red, yield, snail, piranha and Gazebo. They challenged me on the day; this was my contribution.

Enjoying the View

©2017 Karen J Carlisle

Humphrey was a fashionable snail. At least he thought he was. He'd recently taken up residence by the river. He lounged under his brand new red gazebo and surveyed the spectacular view. A wooden sign by the water shaded the yard from the midday sun. A fine crop of broccoli provided an abundant yield for his supper. Ripples glistened on the water. Perfect. He just couldn't understand why his friends hadn't joined him. Water splashed. He crawled out of the shade and edged toward the water. So cool. So inviting. Why had his friends been so concerned? Humphrey, don't go near the water, they cried. Humphrey leaned closer and touched the water. It shuddered. A large eye blinked under the surface. The piranha licked his lips, flicked his tail and swam away from the bank.
THE END
Why don't you have a go at the five word challenge? You have ten minutes to write something containing all the words: red, yield, snail, piranha and Gazebo.
This fortnight's words from my book, Eye of the Beholder & Other Tales, were: grinding, tranquil, warden, sputtered and jaundiced.
Post your stories or poems in the comments below. I'd love to see what you come up with.
Photos ©2017 Karen J Carlisle

A Sense of Wonder: Steampunk Hands Around the World #2

Bear with me, Dear Reader.

I'm about to tell you a tale - one that will offer you a glimpse into the circuitous route to my present mindset and how steampunk has made my life better by restoring a sense of wonder (1) to my life.

I'm a research addict. I crave it. I accumulate it. I hoard it. You can often find me spiraling down endless rabbit holes, in search of that one elusive fact, that last piece of a puzzle I've been chasing. The one thing that makes everything fall into place. It's the curse of a writer (or scientist, or quiz night-o'holic, or... ).

But there's more to it than that.

Imagine you're an explorer of uncharted lands:

Dust whips your face, lodging in your nostrils, scratching your eyes. You dig your fingers into the rock, ignoring the stinging pain as blood beads on your palm. You drag yourself up the precipice, thrust your arm over the crest of the mountain and spy the wonders of an undiscovered landscape.

Imagine the pure delight of such endless new discoveries. Researching my books is not unlike being an explorer. It starts me on my journey, inspires the landscape (setting) and encourages me to explore for new worlds, complete with wondrous gadgets for my characters to discover.

But there's still more.

It seems Sir Francis Bacon predicted our future: Knowledge is power (Meditationes Sacrae and Human Philosophy,1597) . Everyone wants a bit of the action. No one is willing to share.

Let's face it. Life can be a grind: Wake up. Go to work. Come home. Sleep. Repeat. (Though waking up can be optional). Endless days of monotony, in a seemingly uncaring world where we are either invisible and insignificant or vying for control.

But it doesn't have to be that way.

The Empire may have wanted to plunder the spoils of exploration but we - the explorers - can revel in the pursuit of knowledge. We can search for understanding and inspire wonder for others. We can trek into the unknown, searching for the wonder and mystery of life, of people, of experiences. And we can share them.

So how has steampunk made my life better?

It has inspired my research beyond the confines of my writer's chair, beyond the internet, beyond the library. It has encouraged me to discover the wonders of a community of supportive people. It has inspired me to explore the wonders of my world - past and present. It has given me the courage to wrench myself (sometimes literally), from the safety of my comfort zone onto that mountain side, defying my anxiety - to try new things, a new career and to experience life as I search for the hidden wonders in our broken but beautiful world.

 

Photos copyright Karen J Carlisle and MJC


(1) Definitions of Wonder (Oxford Dictionary):
  • A feeling of amazement and admiration, caused by something beautiful, remarkable, or unfamiliar.
  • A thing or a quality of something that causes wonder.
  • A surprising event or situation
  • Having remarkable properties or abilities.

A Whimsical Notion: Steampunk Hands Around the World #1

Greetings from Australia, and welcome to Steampunk Hands Around the World. (This week's Photo Friday will be posted on Sunday 5th Feb) Over the next month I'll be sharing my thoughts on how steampunk makes my life better. You can also read the thoughts of other steampunks from around the world - from the UK, Germany, Mexico, US, Sweden, Spain... and more. You can find a list of all participants at the Airship Ambassador's pages. Today I start with an important lesson I re-discovered, thanks to steampunk:

to look at the world with the wonder of a child and embrace whimsy (1)

When I look at the state of the world today, it makes me shiver. Literally. I shiver, my heart palpates. The constant bombardment of negative news, posts, tweets feed discontent, feed anxiety, feed the fear - with tumultuous results. Our world  is in crisis. Our Earth is dying. Our people, crying.

The world needs something to smile about; I need something to smile about - something, however small, to look forward to. Embracing whimsy is not frivolous. It is a form of protection. Ever wondered why we rally to fantasy movies and books in times of recession? When reality is unbearable we search for escape.

That is one way steampunk has made my life better. Look at some aspects of steampunk:

  • looking back to an era of etiquette and manners.
  • recreating history (well the good bits - like quest for knowledge and wonder of discovery), with a fantastical or fictional twist.
  • turning even the mundane items into individual works of art by
  • encouraging imagination, individuality,
  • and recycling and/or up-cycling unwanted items into artistic items of wonder.
  • whimsical cross-overs - steampunk pirates, steampunk fairies, steampunk Star Wars, steampunk Doctor Who - you get the gist.
  • Tea. There's lots of tea.  (All those antioxidants are good for you.)

So, how has steampunk made my life better? It's taught me to focus on the little things, the beautiful things and beautiful people. It's given me another strategy to cope with anxiety. I write, I create art and costumes. I socialise with supportive, like-minded people.

We need to discover the wonder and inspiration of the glinting treasures below the steaming pile of coal. We can strive to find ways to access that treasure and show the world it's beauty.

So here are Karen's Rules of life:

  1. 'Be excellent to each other'.
  2. Look for the hidden treasures and beauty in life.
  3. Encourage imagination.
  4. Rediscover how to have fun.
  5. Don't let the tyrants win.
  6. Drink tea.

  1. Definition: Whimsical: "Playfully quaint or fanciful, especially in an appealing and amusing way." - Oxford Dictionary. Synonyms: fanciful, playful, mischievous, waggish, quaint, fantastic, unusual, curious)